Abrahamic Family House Abu Dhabi

Abrahamic Family House Abu Dhabi

The Abrahamic Family House is a manifestation of the UAE’s values of diversity, peaceful coexistence, and dialogue. This concept is deeply rooted in the country’s history of bringing together people of different ethnicities and religions, which dates back to the earliest centuries of Islam. Sir Bani Yas in Abu Dhabi and Siniya in Umm al Quwain were critical centers of commerce that connected the Arabian Gulf to the rest of the world, and they attracted a diverse group of people to the region. In particular, a small Christian community established monasteries and churches on these islands, and evidence suggests that there was also a Jewish community present, as seen in the large Hebrew gravestone marking the resting place of “David, son of Moses.”

The Abrahamic Family House is inspired by The Document of Human Fraternity, which was signed by His Holiness Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb in 2019. This document advocates for open dialogue, understanding, and acceptance as essential components in addressing the challenges facing humanity today. The Abrahamic Family House is a testament to this belief and aims to foster dialogue, mutual understanding, and respect among people of different faiths. The institution offers a space where people can come together to learn from each other and exchange knowledge, promoting peaceful coexistence and the acceptance of diversity. The mission of the Abrahamic Family House is to carry on the legacy of the UAE’s historical tradition of bringing people and cultures together, guided by the principles of unity and common humanity.

The Architecture

The Houses of Worship

At the heart of the Abrahamic Family House exists a mosque, a church, and a synagogue, which have been built to provide a welcoming environment for the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities to practice their respective religions. These three buildings have been constructed using the same materials and are of equal size and significance, with the intention of creating a sense of equality and eliminating any sense of superiority. A beautifully landscaped garden connects the three structures, providing a space for people to come together and connect. The mosque is oriented towards Mecca, the church towards the East, and the synagogue towards Jerusalem, signifying their respective religious directions.

Eminence Ahmed El-Tayeb Mosque

Imam Al-Tayeb Mosque, Exterior shot. Photo credit Dror Baldinger

The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, is the inspiration behind the name of the mosque in the Abrahamic Family House. Architect David Adjaye’s design for the mosque combines traditional features of Islamic architecture with modern elements that complement the nearby church and synagogue. The exterior of the mosque is composed of seven arches, a nod to the significance of the number seven in Islam. The interior is characterized by nine vaults that rise and culminate in a sail vault. A standout feature of Islamic architecture, the mashrabiya, which typically consists of a delicate lattice screen to allow for ventilation and light while preserving privacy, is reimagined in Adjaye’s design. Over 470 individual hand-finished operable panels make up the vast mashrabiya-inspired design.

His Holiness Francis Church

His Holiness Francis Church – Exterior shot. Photo credit Dror Baldinger

The church is named after St. Francis of Assisi, a monk who devoted his life to living in a state of extreme poverty during the 13th century. The church is positioned to face the direction of the rising sun as it is a symbol of divinity in Christianity. The columns within the church are arranged in this direction to capture as much eastern light as possible and to highlight the idea of descent and ascent, which are fundamental concepts in Christianity. To allude to the altar at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the church’s timber battens are inspired by rays of light. The vaulting of the church is formed by over 13,000 linear meters of timber.

Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue

Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue – Exterior shot. Photo credit Dror Baldinger

The synagogue is named after Moses Ben Maimon, a Jewish philosopher from the 12th century. Adjaye’s design for the synagogue is inspired by the traditional shelter for prayer, and features a crisscross diagrid façade and soffit that represents the palm trees traditionally used to build a Sukkah, which is a shelter used during the Festival of Shelter. The design also includes bronze chainmail that represents the tent-like structure of the Sukkah, while the skylight references the chuppah, a temporary structure used during Jewish weddings for the couple to stand under and symbolizes a sea of stars.

Inaugurated on 16 February 2023




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